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This music video for “That Girl” by David Choi can easily be called the most ambitious music video we’ve ever created. This is because of a number of reasons. We shot the whole thing in four days in two different locations on both ends of California. We flew our lead actress, Julia Chang down to LA to shoot with us and drove back to SF on the same day. We incorporated multiple mediums in the video including animation and motion graphics. We collaborated with other visual artists to make this possible. We had a hard deadline to stick to because David was leaving for Korea as soon as we wrapped the shoot. The list goes on, but here are some in depth notes on the music video. Enjoy!
For “That Girl” we decided not to do a clear cut narrative. But even though it doesn’t have a prominent story arch, it still has a progression. David wrote a beautiful song that many people can relate to. “That Girl” is basically about trying to convince yourself that you don’t need to be with someone to be happy. While some succeed and move on quickly, others dwell and heal at a slower pace. Whatever the case, the thoughts, emotions and memories we experience during this time are heartwrenchingly powerful and real.
In the video, David goes through three phases. It begins static, cold, and alone with with David by himself. As he reminisces, his memories become more energetic, more lively, and ulitmately more real. This is often the case when we’re in such a heartbroken state. We have a strong desire to relive the moments that have passed. As he dives deeper into the memories, he finds himself actually with her again in the fields. He has inserted himself into possibly the best moment he can remember with her. The last part of the progression is actually being with her again, in present time and space. This is as real as it gets– with them together again. But this moment lasts only briefly. The power of our longing is capable of many things. In reality, David did not get the girl back. She is not with him again. He is alone. The extent of him reliving the relationship only exists in his cherished memories.
Here is a rough storyboard Wes made to previsualize the video. We don’t always storyboard projects but with this MV, there were so many factors that it was helpful to have a set plan. Not everything matches up with the final product but it’s pretty close!
There are three mediums used in this music video. Still photos, stop-motion animation, and film projection. One for each phase of David’s reminiscing. The still photos are familiar physical objects representative of memories. Still and unchanging, they offer a quick glimpse of the relationship. The stop-motion animation shows the memories coming to life. They slowly build up a larger scene. The film projection on the walls is the final step. Not only is it more dynamic than photos but it is also larger in scale. Actually, the projection of “that girl” is roughly life-size. It is the next best thing to actually having her by his side. This all leads to the finale of the video with them together again.
The color palette in the video is also reflective of David’s mood. It begins with cool and dark tones while he is alone. As he get’s closer to being with the girl, the scheme moves toward warmer, more saturated tones. During the finale, we are bombarded by movement and light which is a direct contrast to how the we see David in the beginning and end of the video. In addition, while it may be tricky to see, the clarity and focus of the image is highest when David is not alone.
We wanted to use a sunlit grassy field from the beginning. Ted was able to find the perfect location in Bakersfield, California two hours north of LA. It is a wildflower reserve a few miles off the main freeway. Totally unexpected. We drove up and shot for a few hours before the reserve closed. When that happened, we were forced to shoot right outside the front gate. As usual we were racing against the sun to get all the shots we needed.
After finishing up at the field we continued driving north to the Bay Area. There, we used one of the rooms in Wes’ childhood house. Since no one lives there anymore, we had to bring all our own furniture and set dressing. We spent 3 days shooting in the room. While it was a very small and intimate set, it was a nice change to have a completely controlled environment not dependent on natural lighting.
David’s room is composed of mostly white furniture and vintage objects. While the room is real, it can also be considered a metaphor for his mind and memories. The place we find ourselves late at night when we can’t sleep because something won’t escape our thoughts. The white in the room is a blank canvas for the imagery in his mind. The vintage fan and lamp were chosen because memories are nevery shiny and new, but rather used and worn down. The patchwork covering the window in the room mirrors the cut up photos on his desk. This is an aesthetic representation of the fragmented nature of memory. The room is also is also a complementary location to the grassy field. While one is open, bright, and organic, the other is walled, dark and lonesome. This reflects the major shift/difference between reality and memory.
The visual effects were the last part of the video to be completed because they took the most technical planning and time to accomplish. The animated photos were done at our office using stop-motion. This involves moving each photo in small increments and taking one shot at a time. When all the frames are strung together, it creates the illusion of independent movement.
In a way, this video is groundbreaking for WFP. This is the first time we used computer generated imagery in a live action sequence for a major project! The photos that fly around in the finale were all created separately. We shot David and Julia and then asked our good friend Eugene to create, animate, and composite the photos into the raw footage. Eugene is a pro with motion graphics and we’ve always wanted to work with him. It was awesome finally finding a project to collaborate on. First he created the photos and put the proper images on them. While each photo flips, spins and moves, independently, he had to create a circular path for the particles to follow. Finally a mask was created around David and Julia so that some photos would go “behind” them as they flew through the room. Lighting was matched to the set , motion blur was added, and after the final touches we successfully created a whirlwind of photos. We originally wanted to try doing it in real life with A LOT of cut up magazine pages and a leafblower. After a few attempts we realized it was way too messy (and not nearly as magical as it could be). Thanks to Eugene and his buddies, we were able to create a breathtaking ending for the video.
Even though this was video was a huge challenge to pull off, we had an amazing time every step of the way. Thank you to David for letting us create the visuals for such a honest, beautiful song. Thanks to Eugene and his team for bringing this video to the next level with jaw dropping motion graphics. Thanks to Julia for being “That Girl”– definitely not an easy role haha. Good job everyone. Cheers!